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The W3 Project, Stage 3 (2020-current)

Stage 3 of the W3 Project is a national study of the impact of Australian peer-led HIV and hepatitis C programs.

In Stage 1, we developed the W3 Framework. Then in Stage 2, we trialled it in practice. In this stage, we are implementing it. The goal is to build the first national, consolidated evidence base of the impact and value of peer-led work in the Australian HIV and hepatitis C response.

The image shows the original banner from the W3 Project website. The background is a blurred image of a crowded streetscape. W3 Project is written in white letters in a black box. Underneath is a red line. Under the red line, it says, “Understanding what works and why in peer-based and peer-led programs in HIV and hepatitis C”.

Background to Stage 3 of the W3 Project

The Australian National HIV and Hepatitis C Strategies affirm the importance of community-based and peer-led approaches. These approaches have a unique and important role in the HIV and hepatitis C response. This comes from their strong, positive influence on their communities and on the health systems and policies that affect community health.

Despite this, the evaluation that funders ask for often focuses only on individual-level factors that cannot measure system-level impacts and synergies. This makes it hard for peer-led responses to show the full extent of their impact and value.

The W3 Project’s third stage is a national study of how well peer-led responses achieve and sustain the four W3 Functions in their work. We will pool resources and data from selected peer-led responses in multiple states of Australia to create an evidence base of their impact.

We believe this will support peer-led responses to:

  • Enhance the implementation and impact of their programs
  • Describe and demonstrate their full impact and value
  • Advocate for targeted investment and scale-up of peer-led programs with priority populations
  • Adapt quickly and confidently to rapid changes


During Stage 3 of the W3 Project, we aim to:

  • Draw together evidence from multiple organisations to show the role and impact of peer-led responses
  • Compare peer-led-program models in different organisational, geographic, and policy contexts
  • Identify useful and practical indicators of effectiveness for peer-led programs
  • Provide guidance for those funding, managing, and evaluating peer-led responses

Initial work

During 2021, we worked with our partners to develop evaluation indicators to measure each of the W3 Functions.

It was important to us that the list of indicators be able to capture:

  • The full scope of the work that peer-led organisations and programs undertake
  • The role that they play within both their communities and the health sector and policy environment

It was also important that they be practical and useful for both the peer responses themselves and for their funders.

In order to achieve this, we invited peer workers and representatives from our partner organisations and from state government health departments.

In order to develop a list that everyone agreed upon and felt was useful, we used a modified Delphi Method.

The initial step was to develop draft lists of indicators based on what we learned from piloting the W3 Framework during Stage 2 of the W3 Project.

Participants provided their feedback on the draft indicators via online surveys, which we analysed and used to create a revised list of draft indicators. We repeated this process once more, after which we invited our partner organisations to provide a last round of feedback through face-to-face meetings.

The final lists include broad indicators:

  • For use at both organisation and program levels
  • To measure quality/process and impact
  • That cover all the W3 Functions

Where are we up to now?

Towards the end of 2021, we began working with our partners to identify and collect data against the new W3 Indicators.

We will continue compiling and analysing data throughout this year, working together to build a picture of the overall impact of Australian:

  • Peer-led PLHIV and PWUD organisations
  • Peer navigation programs for people with new HIV diagnoses
  • Peer networker and outreach programs for people who use drugs
  • Peer-led testing programs for HIV and hepatitis C


Current Partners

Initially, we are working with organisations led by people living with HIV (PLHIV) and people who use drugs (PWUD). Depending on time and resources, this list may grow in the future.

PLHIV-led Organisations
PWUD-led Organisations


Stage 3 of the W3 Project receives funding from the Australian Government Department of Health

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